As soon as your business has customers, you need to make sure you have the means to answer all of their queries. In the past, setting up a phone system and having a business email address would be more than enough. But not anymore. We live in a digital world where most customers expect you to be available on all types of online communication channels, such as social media and live chat. Contact Center software allows you to manage all of this in just one platform, helping your business provide seamless and professional customer support.
Best Contact Center Software of 2021
|Editor's Choice 2021|
You would never buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. So, why should contact center software be any different? Most providers offer generous trial periods with enough time for you to set up and test your contact center without paying a dime. We’ve compiled a list of all the best free plans and free trial deals for all the contact center platforms we’ve reviewed so you can use the software with no strings attached.
Contact center software can be expensive. Fortunately, it's a competitive market where companies often provide discounts to get an edge over their competition. Before committing to a purchase, always look for coupons and special promotions. On our coupons page, you'll find all the latest deals and the ways to get the best price possible by discovering hidden discounts and promotions or by using our exclusive coupons.
On the surface, contact center platforms might seem extremely similar. But that's not the case at all – providers come with different advanced tools, price structures, customer support, and more. To help you find the best contact center solution for your needs, we've created a side-by-side comparison chart – putting the most popular providers side by side – and comparison articles focusing on each company's strengths and weaknesses.
Contact Center Software Explained
Contact center software allows you to answer customer queries from all types of communication channels in one unified platform. In other words, it’s an omnichannel platform where you can answer requests from a ticket system, social media, web chat, and more. For example, a customer could initially contact you through Facebook and then decide to give you a call the next day. In that case, contact center software allows you to find the information from both interactions in one place, enabling you to deliver a seamless client support experience throughout all communication channels.
The software also comes with various tools to increase your contact center productivity, such as customer contact routing, key metrics tracking, and continuous internal communication. It allows you to direct customers to agents by their skill, check performance in real time, tag agents to specific requests, just to name a few.
There are three main types of contact centers: inbound, outbound, and virtual. While inbound contact centers focus on handling customer queries, outbound contact centers reach potential and existing customers. For outbound calls, contact center software provides dedicated features such as smart dialers to help agents be more efficient when contacting prospects. Crucially, virtual contact centers combine the services of both inbound and outbound contact centers.
It’s important to know the difference between contact center software, virtual phone systems, and call center apps to understand what a contact center platform is. While virtual phone systems are just a way to set up your phone communication lines, call center apps provide the necessary tools to handle customer calls. Usually, contact center software providers not only offer all the features found in VoIP and call center solutions, but they also add to the mix the ability to manage customer queries from all other communication channels.
Essential Features of Contact Center Software
When searching for a contact center platform, there are a few core features that virtually all software solutions provide. To decide which additional features you’ll need, you’ll have to consider three main factors: managing customer requests, internal communication, and tracking client support KPIs.
Handling Customer Requests
For customer requests, always make sure that the contact center platform comes with all the necessary tools for call handling. Besides providing agents with the ability to forward, transfer, and merge calls, the software should also allow you to easily set up call routing, IVR, and call queues. Moreover, you should go for providers that offer a unified platform where agents can manage ticket submissions, social media messages, and web chat queries all in one place.
Internal Communication Tools
Contact centers need seamless internal communication as well, since clients hate to explain their issues over and over again. Therefore, it’s essential that the software allows agents to create tags and add notes to customer profiles. It’s even better if the platform comes with a built-in chat or at least lets you integrate with team collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. More importantly, it’s vital that the contact center software comes with built-in CRM or allows you to integrate with the one you’re already using.
Last but not least, the software should allow you to track KPIs in real time. Managers should be able to see how many customers are waiting for support, how many agents are available, and how long it’s taking for agents to interact with clients. It’s also crucial that the manager has the necessary tools to help agents when needed with either call whispering or the ability to join the conversation. In the end, managers also need to get a helicopter view of what’s happening in the contact center making straightforward reporting a must.
The Key Benefits of a Contact Center Software in the Cloud
As customers started to become more digital, companies developed their customer support accordingly. However, most of them just added new platforms to what they already had, ending up with a disjointed and expensive system. By unifying all communication channels in one place, contact center software offers the following key benefits:
Because cloud-based contact center software allows agents to manage everything in one place, it provides seamless communication and increased agent productivity. While there are other solutions you could opt for – such as on-premise contact centers – cloud-based contact center software is definitely the most straightforward and affordable method.
Improved Customer Experience
Having access to all communication channels means support agents can see the client’s history regardless of how they got in touch. This improves the customer experience tremendously, as clients can jump between their favorite communication channels without having to repeat their problem over and over again.
Intelligent Contact Routing
Contact center software allows you to set up advanced contact routing for all types of communication, which enables you to direct customers to the right department in a matter of minutes. You can set up skill-based routing, self-service solutions, VIP numbers, and more. All of this decreases the time customers spend on hold and the number of call transfers, resulting in a more efficient contact center.
Reporting and Analytics
Finally, all contact center platforms come with dedicated dashboards to track KPIs. While some providers can be more comprehensive than others, all of them provide real-time analytics and periodical reporting. This not only allows you to make quick decisions on a daily basis but also come up with mid- and long-term strategies.